Update: Modders have found a way to access the GTA V archive files.
If you were waiting for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V for the mods, you may have some more waiting to do.
The modders responsible for those files that can make games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim look nearly photorealistic are saying that Grand Theft Auto V is difficult to modify. In a post on the modding website ENBdev, one of the team members (posting as ENBSeries) explained that they don’t really want to get into GTA V modding unless developer Rockstar makes it easier. And the developer may not want to do that since it could enable cheating in the GTA: Online mode.
“Rockstar did everything to prevent modding of GTA V,” ENBSeries wrote on their website. “So at this moment, [it’s] impossible to do anything via editing [the] game files.”
They went on to write that they will only mod GTA V if Rockstar patches in a workaround or if other hackers are able to get around the encryption that prevents easy access to that data.
Other modders on different forums are echoing this sentiment.
“Bad news,” modder Frostav wrote on Reddit. “This game looks very locked down right now. It might be a while before we can get into the game. This is the most a GTA game has ever been locked down before. I can’t even access simple stuff like the [car-handling files].”
In previous GTA games, the files for stuff like car handling were saved as basic text files that anyone could adjust with programs like Notepad. By disabling user access to something like that, it shows just how much work the developer put into preventing user mods.
We’ve reached out to Rockstar to ask about GTA V modding, and we’ll update this post with any new information.
The lack of easy modding for GTA V is something that could hurt its long-term popularity — although, Rockstar and publisher Take-Two Interactive have already sold more than 1 million copies since the game launched earlier this week. Grand Theft Auto on PC has a long history of supporting mods that added amazing features to the game. Hacker groups pieced together an online simulation mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas back in the mid-2000s. This had people playing as citizens and police, and the cops controlled by players would pull you over if you weren’t following the traffic laws.
When Grand Theft Auto IV came out on PC in December 2008, hundreds of mods quickly added things like the capability to play as Spider-Man:
Or to play as an elephant:
These mods added to the longevity of GTA IV; players continued to buy it for years after its release because they were always seeing new and interesting things that the community was creating.
But that is potentially the problem with GTA V. This time around, Rockstar has added GTA: Online, which is a persistent multiplayer world that it hopes will keep people playing (and spending money) for the next several years. Mods could distract from that. The company could be worried about mods enabling people to cheat in GTA: Online. That would destroy the economy and likely convince people not to spend any money on in-game purchases.
And that’s understandable. Rockstar has worked to make GTA: Online into something viable that can generate revenue while it works on the next game. But blocking off files also ignores an important truth: Modders find a way.
While Rockstar may have worked to make this the most difficult-to-mod GTA yet, it’s likely only a matter of time before someone cracks the game and gets it working. After all, as Reddit poster Manisil points out, people were able to add mods to GTA V on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and the PC is much more open than those platforms.
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